As vaccination has become the major topic of the corona pandemic around the globe, world media regularly quotes Israel as an example of a country which has already vaccinated a larger share of its population than any other country in the world. Why is Israel doing better than other countries ?
According to projection, 80% of people aged more than 60 will be vaccinated by January 10. 150,000 people are vaccinated per day.
“I am asked all over the world how Israel does it,” declared Israeli Health Minister Yuli Edelstein on Sunday. “The reasons are that we were prepared on time, signed on time with the leading companies and convinced them that if they gave us the vaccine, the health funds would know how to administer it in a very short time. That is exactly what is happening.”
‘’While there are many politicians who would like to take the credit for Israel’s rock-star performance – not least Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – there is more at play here than petty politics,’’ wrote The Jerusalem Post citing nine more reasons why Israel is currently the world’s No. 1 vaccinator and quoting healthcare experts:
- Universal healthcare
Universal healthcare has existed in Israel since before the founding of the state and has continued to be a valuable factor ever since. As part of a universal care offering, the most critical types of care are provided to citizens free of charge, including general practitioner, urgent hospitalization, lab work and vaccination.
“The system revolves around the intimate connection from cradle to grave between citizens and their healthcare provider,” Ran Balicer, chief innovation officer for Clalit Health Services said, adding that general practitioners have a list of people for whom they feel responsible in health and sickness, which has proven critical for reaching the country’s elderly and chronically ill and getting them into their funds to vaccinate.
- People trust their health funds
In an era when some 62% of the population lacks trust in its Prime Minister, according to the Israel Democracy Institute, it is striking to know that according to a 2020 survey conducted by Myers-JDC-Brookdale, 90% of Israelis are satisfied with their health funds.
- A focus on preventative care
Health funds are focused on ensuring their clients take care of themselves and not only healing them after they are sick. Some health experts suggested that one of the reasons that the coronavirus mortality rate in Israel was lower than in other countries was because there is less untreated and undiagnosed chronic illness in the country.
In Israel, health funds are paid by an age-adjusted per capita amount of funding for every member, rather than by services provided. As such, there is a lot of emphasis on preventive, proactive care and outreach, and clients are used to hearing from their health funds.
- Israel knows emergencies
“We are like sprinters,” said Arnon Afek, deputy director-general of Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer. “Israel knows how to mobilize.”
“We have become used to working in a state of emergency.’’
- A lot of people work for the health funds
Clalit is the largest employer in Israel with more than 45,000 workers. According to Leumit Health Care Services’ website, the fund employs 2,000 specialists among its tens of thousands of staff members.
Having this immense manpower – a clinic in every neighborhood in the country from north to south – gives the health funds a lot of power, Balicer said.
- This is not the first time the funds vaccinated a lot of people
- Data and technology
The health funds all work with computerized records that feed data securely and without revealing private details to the Health Ministry to track the vaccine campaign’s progress and any side effects or other information reported by those who get them.
The country did not just launch its campaign, but together with the health funds and hospitals, it ran a widespread TV, radio and newspaper campaign encouraging people to take the vaccine.
‘’Before the campaign began, we had only around 40% of the population saying they would vaccinate, and other percentages said maybe or they were not interested. Now, we see that everyone is interested, and we have to prioritize,” said Tamar Fishmn-Magen, a member of Mehuhedet Health Maintenance Organization’s Nurse Division.
- The spirit of the People of Israel
The health professionals, first, who volunteered to work extra hours to ensure people were vaccinated, he said. But also the general public.
“You can have all the staff ready and trained and the supply available, but if the public does not cooperate, it cannot be done,” said Ido Hadari from Maccabi Healthcare Services.